What issues should Democrats focus on?

Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Throughout our nation’s history, hope and optimism have defined the American spirit. As a nation, we have always emerged from difficult times of war and economic uncertainty stronger and more unified. And every generation has struggled to leave our children a world that is stronger and more secure than the one left to us. That is our legacy, and it must also be our commitment.

Our nation faces great challenges in the days and months ahead. There is danger abroad and unfulfilled promise here at home. And as it has been for the past four years, the country is divided. But our partisan split, rather than being an excuse for inaction, must be a call to compromise and common sense. Despite our divisions, there are many places where we should be able to agree.

More than three years after the horrific attacks of 9/11, we know we are not as safe as we should be. As we came together after September 11, 2001, we must come together now to enact the urgent recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

We must move to address our domestic priorities: creating good jobs, increasing access to healthcare, and providing the best possible education for our children. Even on these crucial issues, there is broad bipartisan consensus on concrete steps we could take right now.

To create jobs, we can begin by passing a robust transportation bill that will create 1.7 million new jobs nationwide while modernizing our infrastructure.

We also must reform the tax code and stop rewarding outsourcing. As a matter of basic fairness, no taxpayer should have to subsidize the outsourcing of his or her own job.

Congress should take up legislation to extend health insurance to more parents and children. There also is broad agreement that one of the ways to bring down the cost of healthcare is to allow the safe reimportation of drugs from Canada and elsewhere.

To improve education, we must not only keep the promise of No Child Left Behind, we must match reforms with the resources necessary to make them work for our children. And we must make college education more affordable, so that every student who has the motivation to continue his or her education beyond high school will have the means to do so.

There are places where we differ, as well, and Democrats will stand our ground. The president has proposed privatizing Social Security, which would cut the benefits that provide financial security for millions of seniors and the disabled. Democrats have always protected Social Security and will continue to do so.

The president also pledged to cut the deficit in half. But in the days after the election, he said he wants even more tax cuts and proposed yet another increase in the debt limit. Democrats will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility. And that begins with an honest discussion about how to reduce the enormous deficit.

Within the Congress itself, there must be more discourse and less discord. Democrats and Republicans are on different sides of the aisle, but we have a shared oath and a solemn obligation to serve our country together. As elected officials, our commitment must be to build a future worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and worthy of the aspirations of our children. That is my hope for this administration and this Congress.

Nancy Pelosi is the House Majority Democratic Leader, and represents California’s 8th congressional district.
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